The Chicks Break the Rules

You can’t wear white after Labor Day. Right? From being fashionably late to embracing sentence fragments, the Chicks share what common fashion, etiquette and grammar rules we dare to break.

 Vickie Fee

vickieAt parties, is it good manners to arrive Fashionably Late? (Hey, a (not-so) subtle shout out for Lisa Q. Mathews new release)! Or should you be on time? Hubs and I generally arrive late, regardless of our intentions, just because tardiness is our default mode. But we nonetheless have detailed conversations about whether we should arrive late, and how late is acceptable. Our playbook on timing often comes down to whether we’ve been asked/offered to bring food to the event: If we’re bringing an appetizer, we figure we should arrive early on. If we’re bringing dessert, we have more leeway. If we’re bringing booze, people will be glad to see us no matter when we show up!

Cynthia Kuhn


Certain rules of grammar and punctuation were made to be broken. Seriously, how many times was it drilled into us during elementary and secondary schools that Thou Shalt Not Use Fragments?

Turns out: fragments offer stylistic variation I cannot live without.

Also prefer to ignore Rules of Capitalization as well as Uses of Exclamation Points because sometimes things Need Emphasis and other times, they need more than usual amount of exclaim-y goodness!! #RebelEnglishTeacher #sorrynotsorry

Ellen Byron


I basically break the fashion rules on a daily basis by wearing men’s pajama bottoms as pants wherever I go. Do I care? Not one bit. But I have a story about wearing white after Labor Day. One day, I was having a conversation with my great-aunt Ruth. She was from another era—she’d be 108 now if she were still alive. Ruth was talking about a relative-by-marriage, a woman she did not like at all. (Note: when you read this, it will help if you imagine a heavy Noo Yawk accent.) “She was very arrogant, always putting on airs,” Ruth said, almost in a gossipy whisper even though the lady in question had long ago departed earth. “But the family lost all of its money. And you know what happened? That Sadie got so poor she had to wear white shoes in winter.” I’ve never forgotten the exact wording of that line. I tried building an entire play around it. That didn’t work out, but I’m currently searching for a place to use it in my new manuscript.

Lisa Q. Mathews

CotC Word balloons

My head has spun with fashion rules since my mom took me into Saks on a leash (the chic halter style). No pierced ears until I was fourteen (I relaxed that to thirteen for my daughters.) I wasn’t allowed to wear black (only navy) and that stuck with me until I moved to NYC after graduation. (Then I wore nothing but black.)  White could only be worn from Memorial Day until Labor Day (until I moved South for a while and that all went out the window). No open-toed shoes outside of that same season (until I moved to NH and no one cared). No mixing black and navy. No mixing gold and silver jewelry or handbag hardware. No bare head or shoulders in Mass–gloves optional until Vatican II. No white, black, or red dresses to weddings, lest you be mistaken for a bride, a mourner, or a hussy. No peek-a-boo lingerie (oops). No short skirts or long hair for women d’un certain age. No pumps without hose…AARGH!!! I’m exhausted just typing this list.  Maybe that’s why I wrote FASHIONABLY LATE. I was obligated to share all of these Very Important Regulations, you see, lest the world stop spinning. I mean, we ladies have standards. (You’re welcome!)

 Marla Cooper

CotC Marla Cooper

I’m one of those people who tend to think of rules as helpful suggestions. Nevertheless, I typically obey traffic laws because, unlike wearing white after Labor Day, traffic infractions come with fines. However, lately I’ve been breaking a rule that’s, um, well, actually sort of a law. (Confession is good for the soul, right?) So, there’s this traffic light two blocks from my house. There’s no cross street there; just a school parking lot that’s hard to get out of during rush hour. At night, the street is empty, as is the parking lot. And let’s just say I’m coming home from writing group at eleven o’clock at night and there’s no one around, and the light turns red not because there’s an actual car there but just because it turns red every two minutes whether it’s needed or not. I’m not saying I fly right through it, but I have been known to, shall we say, depart early from time to time.


Kellye Garrett


To whom it may concern, I’m not a big fan of the word whom. It just seems so formal and, let’s be honest here, when’s the last time that you used “whom” when talking to a friend or family member? It just seems like something a fancy English butler would say in the early 20th century while sipping on tea with his pinky up. I’ve even had to look up when you should use it, since I never do. According to Grammar Book, you should use the “he/him method to decide whether who or whom is correct. He = who and him = whom. Who knew?

Readers, drop us a note in the comments below! Are there any rules that you love to break?

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20 thoughts on “The Chicks Break the Rules

  1. Rules – “they’re more like guidelines.” LOL I wear white after Labor Day, I use sentence fragments all the time (in my fiction) and I will admit to occasionally being creative with capitalization and punctuation (in fiction). Shh! Don’t tell my English teachers!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Wait. I thought the “don’t wear white after Labor Day” thing only applied to shoes. You mean we aren’t supposed to wear white tops or pants either? I may have to break that rule on purpose now, instead of obliviously!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. My mom told me before I went off to college her rule about wearing white. But it wasn’t about when to wear it, it was about what to drink when you did: “If you’re wearing something white to a party,” she gravely (but with a playful grin) advised, “drink only Martinis, white wine, or Champagne.”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have 2 older and 2 younger sisters. The older sisters told me that it was very classy to stick your little finger out when you drink (even though they didn’t). Well, I taught myself to do it, and now can’t stop. That darn little finger is always sticking out — when I type, use my laptop’s touchpad, drink, etc… I looked it up on the internet (where everything is always true, you know), and came up with this: People often think proper tea drinking means sticking your pinky out. That’s actually rude and connotes elitism. It comes from the fact that cultured people would eat their tea goodies with three fingers and commoners would hold the treats with all five fingers. Sigh…

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I don’t wear white. It wouldn’t stay white for long! If my dad had his way, panty hose, pierced ears, any form of pants outside of gardening wear, heels, short hair, etc. would not have happened until I was in college! Thank goodness for my grandmother! She told him he was being ridiculous on more than one occasion! I do arrive at events very early. I have a fear of being late. Drives my kids crazy still and they are adults! Ah, rules. Don’t you just love them! 😉 You guys are the best! Have a nice weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My question about wearing white would be this. What about all the white sweaters that are sold? And the fur coats, whatever that white animal is that makes them. And what about brides? Does that mean only summer brides are allowed to wear white? Just askin.
    Fashion rules? What about the fact that I was awake at 230 this morning. I got dressed to work at home, and was so PI put of it I put my clothes on over my pajamas. Yup, just checked. They are still there. Do I know how to layer incorrectly or what!
    Exclamation points! I was told no more than 5 per novel! But they are so pretty! I won’t stick to that rule! Who made that rule anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

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